Thursday, May 5, 2011

Locked Up in Multiple Use: The Lake Mead Act, 1950-64

Lake Mead gained in popularity as a recreation destination after World War II. Debate over its legitimacy faded. However, reservoir use west of Grand Wash and Congressional action on Bridge Canyon dam were suspended. What NPS staff at LMNRA wanted was a permanent status spelling out how they were to administer it. Tillotson, with his doubts, remained as Regional Director until 1955.

March 1952, an application for a sawmill on the Shivwits plateau was passed on to the Director. who said that though multiple uses were allowed, they should not be in conflict with recreation potential. In this case, neither water nor the ponderosa were abundant, so the application should be denied, given that recreation development is probable in not too distant a future (given likelihood of Bridge being built). Tillotson grumbled that the Shivwits area was too large. Also, NPS could not protect it from fire, which would be embarrassing if cutting were denied. He then told the Sup't to prepare a new boundary study, limiting the area of the Shivwits included to access points and heads of canyons. Justify, he added, any necessity to retain land very carefully. 

Naturalist Grater visited Mt Dellenbaugh's vicinity and Whitmore Point in August. His Sep 1952 report was enthusiastic [as all such reports were] about the potential of the Sanup and Whitmore-Parashont-Andrus esplanades for visitor use, offering "numerous vistas and science features on a magnificant scale". However, the Shivwits offered nothing of unusual value, though there was a considerable amount of ponderosa and other plants not otherwise found. The Sanup was a complete biological unit, and could support homesites and year-round recreation facilities. This was also true of the Uinkarets mountains. LMNRA's ranger chief visited the Dame sawmill near Green Springs. Fire control not being really a serious problem, the staff consensus was that no change in the boundary was needed. Ample land remained for private development. The southern end of the Shivwits would be most suitable for recreation. The sup't was concerned, Nov 1952, that cutting be very selective; reproduction of pine was slow, and they were valuable in place, but he approved since development would be years away, and change should wait until Bridge dam authorized. (Logging seems to have taken place from about 1950.) Tillotson passed this on to the Director: legislation would be far in the future, and we should concentrate on administering a recreation function. Apr 1953, the Director agreed on no change.
A discussion between BLM, Reclamation, and NPS arose over limiting the withdrawal to 300' horizontally from the high water line; the conclusion was that sometime legislation would be needed. Perhaps because of the Hualapai assertion of their rights during the recent Congressional activity over Bridge Canyon dam, NPS was now willing to negotiate with them, but still wanted to claim Hualapai land for the NRA.

Sep 1953, the Sup't told visiting House members that legislation for the recreation area would be desirable, as well as encouraging a greater realization of the difference between recreation areas and parks. 

In March 1954, the DC office asked for a boundary review, again, based on reformulated criteria for recreation areas. There was need to consider compatible and dominant uses, recreation, water control, scenic, mining, grazing, but the overall purpose to be enclosed was "public recreation", including "the related canyons and landmarks that form the intimate (sic) setting of the reservoirs". It should all be of national significance, under management allowing uses not incompatible with protection and public enjoyment. Look at roads in Grand Canyon section, as well as the Joshua tree forest. This was passed on to LMNRA, which reported in August that it could see no reason to make any changes in its recommendations. 

Support in general was growing for the NRA, according to the Sup't. Newly-elected congressman Young of Nevada was willing to support legislation on the NRA, to get fees flowing into treasury, and he asked for a draft to give permanent status to the NRA in March 1955. (Tillotson died in that month. He had been a strong character and an opinionated official in Grand Canyon affairs for 30 years.)The Director's idea was that legislation would embody a positive statement of purpose, while allowing hunting, mining, grazing, homesites, and Reclamation control. The Sup't wanted a better name, perhaps dropping 'recreation' and calling it a Park. By June, a draft was circulating in Interior. There was a boundary map, and also Secretarial authority to revise it. The NRA would be administered for public recreation and to preserve scenic, historical and scientific features. Mineral leasing, grazing, and cabins were allowed. Hualapai rights were recognized, though their land was still wanted. 

The draft bill was sent to Young and others at the end of 1955. According to the Director's explanation, a boundary revision was needed for new purposes aside from reclamation. First in scenic qualities was the Grand Canyon, its mouth and the spectacular terraces of the Shivwits and Grand Wash Cliffs. Senator Bible of Nevada introduced it in Jan 1956. The Sup't told his staff that administration would be strengthened, and the Hualapai protected by the provision that their land would be included only if they agreed. [Not surprisingly, although there was never a tribal resolution agreeing, maps, including USGS topos and other official ones, often show the boundary drawn to include the northern third of the Reservation.] He lamented the name was still Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Discussion on provisions continued through the year, and NPS prepared for the new Congress in 1957 by asking the Sup't for a "strong justification". Richey instead complained he was not sent proper materials, and that Bible was disappointed by so much area being included. Richey said that if mining was not confined to leases, the enterprise would not be worthwhile, so legislation should wait. The DC office made this change in the bill introduced in February.  

LMNRA staff found two desirable boundary adjustments on the Shivwits. Before, its remoteness and inaccessibility prevented a complete study. On the ground in the fall of 1956, they had found superlative public use sites, but some rim areas had been left out. They had been "awed by the view", but to get from one point to the next on an NPS road would require adding land back from points. They also needed access for protection. There are outstanding sites around heads of Burnt, Twin Springs & Green Springs canyons. They could work with BLM on the fire camp and hq sites, which need to be within boundary. The revised boundary was approved by the Director in March 1957. 

In July, Richey said local comment was favorable. However, a Utah miner complained that each section should be justified because there were the usual "valuable mineral deposits" all over the Shivwits. The Director's reply spoke of the extraordinary scenic & scientific interest of these lands, in the Canyon and on narrow plateaus. Area would be in an NRA, so mineral activity permitted.  Some think the area is of National Park caliber.

At the end of 1957, Sen. Bible met with Sup't Richey. [N.b. Richey was Supt' until 1969, and he and Bible had good relations--(Bible wrote "Dear Chuck" letters)--; fortunate since Bible was not only from Nevada, but on the Senate Parks Subcommittee, and its chairman. Richey was followed by Bean, and apparently the relationship continued, since it appears in the drawing of GCNP boundary in the 1970's; see my entry of 13 Sep 2010.) Richey gave Bible data and the justification. He did not think field hearings were necessary, since there was no opposition; indeed Richey did not even want to go to Washington to testify. Bible gave a talk, stressing values of parks and LMNRA. However, action ended there throughout 1958 because Bible and NPS apparently did not agree on the mining provision.

The disagreement over whether to open the lands to the mining law or just to leasing continued in 1959, and with other Interior priorities, held up action on the Lake Mead bill. A Hualapai lawyer wanted to know what NPS intended, saying it would wait until it found out to take a position. Mar 1959, Bible had Richey testify in DC about the bill.  Sep 1959, Interior announced that a bill was a good idea; no change in provisions. Bible held local hearing in December, with much criticism from Mohave Country (AZ) officials, and of course from miners. However, Bible said they could be answered, and he would press the bill in 1960. The final statement from Mohave was in the fine old local tradition of paranoia and hatred of the fed as landowner. The claim was that NPS wanted to take Hualapai land so as to bypass all Arizona cities and towns by building a road into lower Grand Canyon. They wanted all land opened to taxes.

Apr 1960, Bible told Richey he had heard considerable opposition from stockmen in Arizona Strip, who feared that NPS would end grazing. [Which, it should be admitted, it did, over the next 30-40 years.) He would hold more hearings, and wondered if any land could eliminated. Richey was "shocked" in reply, since Waring (located on the Shivwits) and other stockmen in the area were at the earlier hearing and made no adverse comment. One reason for the bill was to authorize multiple use, so no need for their opposition. Maybe their confusion was with National Parks. Richey then provided a glowing summary of the Shivwits area. One of the finest scenic and recreation areas in U.S. There will be development from Bridge dam. It is like the Kaibab, with heavy snowfall and ponderosa. It would be a great asset to the local area economically. Price Butte has especially fine views. We included only necessary parts. A breath-taking area, but little known. He mentioned "early man", Mormon, Powell, and other historical assets. The geological range was huge, and he included paragraphs on the plant and animal life. 

A pause. From 1930, we have been reviewing report after report after report* (and they will continue into the 1990's) extolling the wonders of the western Grand Canyon. Yes, I know the dam was planned; I know there were stockmen and miners and hunters and all the other stripes of Park-haters. But why, just once in all that pile of reports, could not some official, some NPSer, have just come out and said: This is part of the Grand Canyon. It is as worthy of Park status as the sections to the east. Let us do the right thing and recommend that it be all joined up into one Park. 
But history is gentler and more chaotic than that.

After a Utah Senator wrote Interior about his grazing constituents, the administration replied in May 1960 that they really did not intend to change grazing, but did not want to give it priority either. Bible and Richey then worked together to get local meetings to informally discuss, with the aim of reassuring without altering the bill. The June meeting was labeled "very successful" by Richey. The 20 or so stockmen had not one word of complaint or criticism. He wished he could have gotten a verbatim transcript, since there was so much good sentiment. The principal graziers, Mathis and Waring, were outspoken with praise. Main complaint of some others was lack of notice for December 1959 hearing. No one had any question about the Shivwits boundary; they did fear exclusion of grazing in far future. :) 

[Waring sold out to LMNRA, ending Shivwits plateau grazing, perhaps and I am not sure, by Mrs. Waring after her husband's death. The Park Expansion of 1975 ended grazing on the Sanup by 1985. That caused a ruckus.]

Bible decided it was then too late to finish bill, and urged Richey to get local people to write the Utah Senators, so as not to leave any door open to question. In a memo, Richey noted that in early 1940's, there was discussion about the grazing administration until it ended up as joint with BLM and NPS. 

May 1961, Bible re-introduced bill, S 1836. This was the fourth attempt. Matters having nothing to do with GC lands bogged it down once again. Bible was still pleased with Richey & NRA, 1962, and would introduce bill quickly in new Congress, 1963.   Apr 1963, there was a hearing on S 653. Still, negotiations with Nevada Game & Fish Commission continued. Action was taken by the Senate in July 1963, with House hearings in November. The House passed the bill with amendments, and the Senate passed that in Sep 1964, Richey saying the bill was better than he had hoped. Signed into law 8 Oct 1964.

The official map was a revision of that of Jan 1957, dated July 1963. Here is an NPS map that shows the legislated boundary, and the proposed addition (above the word "RECREATION") to include Mt. Dellenbaugh (where the summer palace of LMNRA is located) gained later.

Other relevant provisions of the Act were: Section 2 included the generous exchange powers. Sec. 3 was for the Hualapai: inclusion of their land in the NRA "shall not be effective until approved by the Hualapai Tribal Council". Even then, laws & privileges were those pertaining to the Reservation. Section 4 set recreation as the first and second purpose, with scenic et al. third, and only as consistent with everything else, i.e., a dam. Section 5 permitted hunting. 

And over this 20-year period, is it true as it appears that a good part of the favorable copy about LMNRA came from the GC section? Is that what gave the boosters something to talk about? How much of that was due to the possibility that another dam would be built in that section? Note that just as the Lake Mead Act was completed, the legislative battle started that four years later would see the dam's demise. Was that good, or bad, timing? 

In 1964, Richey was negotiating with Waring about an exchange of lands; it took two years, due to age of latter. Fortunately, the exchange provisions in the new law were "very favorable".

Nov 1964, Reclamation got its 300' horizontal setback from reservoir high water agreed to by NPS. It did not get its dam agreed to by Congress.

*Some of them:  Schenk, Dec 1939; Thompson, Jan 45; Bdy rpt., Jul 47; Grater, Nov 52. Summary rpts: dec 51, Aug 54, Oct 55, Feb 57.
Sources: Lake Mead NRA archives, NARA Laguna Niguel; files in Boulder City headquarters

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